NFL coaches on the hot seat: Jason Garrett, Jim Schwartz need to make the playoffs

Elsa

Both Jason Garrett and Jim Schwartz need to make the playoffs to save their jobs. Rex Ryan probably needed to as well .. but that's not going to happen.

We've had a whole week since Gary Kubiak was fired by the Houston Texans, but is any other NFL head coach closer to getting let go by his team? We've talked at length about two specific coaches who are likely on their way out in Greg Schiano of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Leslie Frazier of the Minnesota Vikings.

It seems a foregone conclusion that both are let go; it's just a matter of when. Will another win really be the straw that broke the camel's back, resulting in a fired coach before the end of the regular season (both teams are well out of the playoff race)? Or will they make it to the end due to the absolute pointlessness of installing an interim head coach for a single game?

The more interesting factors at play, to me, are which coaches are going to find themselves on the chopping block due to missed playoff opportunities. We saw the Chicago Bears finally make a change at the head coach position despite a 10-6 record last season, thanks to Lovie Smith's team missing the playoffs after a late-season collapse.

This year, the coaches we've been talking about weren't in as strong a position as Smith was. We've been talking about three specific coaches as needing a playoff spot and possibly even a playoff win to keep their jobs. They are Rex Ryan of the New York Jets, Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys and Jim Schwartz of the Detroit Lions.

Let's take a look at their playoff situations at the moment, heading into Week 16:

Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions

We originally took Schwartz off our list because the Lions were playing so well. That move seems premature now, as Schwartz's situation still hasn't changed much. The Lions need to make the playoffs to save his job; it's as simple as that. A playoff win probably isn't required at this point, but an appearance is necessary.

Detroit fell to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 15, allowing them to put up six field goals in victory. That included a 61-yard field goal in the final minute to give them the 18-16 win. That put the Lions at 7-7 on the season, one game behind the 8-6 Chicago Bears and half a game behind the 7-6-1 Packers.

Now, the Lions don't control their own destiny. If either the Bears or Packers win out, that team would win the NFC North. Green Bay hosts the Steelers in Week 16, while the Bears play the Eagles in Philadelphia. Both teams will play each other in Week 17. Detroit now needs to win both games, and hope that they match up with the Bears in the head-to-head, as they hold the tiebreak.

Right now, the Lions are on the outside looking in.

Rex Ryan, New York Jets

The Jets have been a surprising team this season. With Geno Smith starting at quarterback and a host of other issues, most believed it was a foregone conclusion that they were in for a losing season and that Ryan would be out of a job. But they fought and won some games despite spectacularly poor quarterback play.

What was it good for? Nothing, at this point, as the Jets ended up benching Smith, the player Ryan may have tied his coaching future to.

We've said it over and over -- Ryan likely needed a playoff appearance and a win to keep his job heading into next season. New York lost four of fives games since entering their bye week at 5-4.

It's technically a "collapse," but the Jets were never playing well enough to truly carry any expectations. Ryan seems done in New York, but he might just last the rest of the regular season.

Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys

It's very clear that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wants stability in Dallas. He doesn't want to fire Garrett, much like he doesn't want to switch up the play-calling duties or move on from quarterback Tony Romo, but he's already had to do at least one of those things.

Well it's clear he's not going to move on from Romo after they gave him a big contract, so everything seems to be riding on Garrett. He's been stripped of play-calling duties, and most expected him to be fired this past offseason. Now the question is whether or not he'll redeem himself this season.

No matter what Jones says, Garrett is coaching for his job right now. Not only do the Cowboys absolutely need to make the playoffs for Garrett to retain his job, they probably need to win a game once there. Fortunately, the Cowboys control their own destiny at this point.

If Dallas wins its Week 16 matchup, the Cowboys are guaranteed to be fighting for the NFC East crown in Week 17. They hold the tiebreakers over the Philadelphia Eagles, the team they'll be playing in Week 17. Dallas has been in the same situation the past two seasons, and has lost those games (to the Washington Redskins in 2012-13 and the New York Giants in 2011-12).

Losing in the same scenario will almost definitely cost Garrett his job.

At any rate, the full list of coaches we're looking at right now is below:

Dennis Allen (Oakland Raiders), Jason Garrett (Dallas Cowboys), Rex Ryan (New York Jets), Leslie Frazier (Minnesota Vikings), Greg Schiano (Tampa Bay Buccaneers),Gary Kubiak (Houston Texans), Jim Schwartz (Detroit Lions) and Mike Shanahan (Washington Redskins)

After Week 15

Losers: Shanahan, Schiano, Allen, Ryan, Garrett, Schwartz

All of Ryan, Garrett and Schwartz fell in Week 15. Detroit lost to a Ravens team that kicked six field goals, the Cowboys surrendered a 26-3 lead by allowing 34 points to the Green Bay Packers in the second half of a 37-36 loss and the Jets lost a ho-hum 30-20 affair to the Carolina Panthers. It was a wholly awful display for three teams fighting for their playoff lives.

The Raiders put on an even worse showing, though they are already out of the playoffs. Allen's Raiders fell to the Kansas City Chiefs, 56-31, allowing 21 points in the first quarter and six more touchdowns over the next three. Shanahan and the Redskins fell to the struggling Atlanta Falcons, 27-26, though Kirk Cousins managed to throw for three touchdowns.

Schiano and the Buccaneers stood little chance in their game against the San Francisco 49ers, falling, 33-14.

Victorious: Frazier

That's right: only one of our coaches was victorious in Week 15. Frazier and the Vikings scored an upset over the Philadelphia Eagles, winning, 48-30. It was even more impressive given that the team was without Adrian Peterson, but Matt Asiata carried the load and had three rushing touchdowns. That win did help Garrett and the Cowboys, putting Dallas in control of its own destiny.

Looking Ahead

Minnesota will look to score another upset and affect the playoff implications even further when they take on the 9-5 Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Schiano and the Buccaneers will face the 6-8 St. Louis Rams, who just dominated Tampa Bay's NFC South rival, the New Orleans Saints, in Week 15.

Ryan and the Jets are no longer fighting for the playoffs, but wins are definitely a must if Ryan has any shot at keeping his job. They'll play host to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Garrett and the Cowboys will take on Shanahan and the Redskins, and the game obviously means a whole lot more to Garrett's Cowboys at this point.

Allen and the Raiders will take on the Chargers, hoping to avoid allowing another ridiculously-high amount of passing touchdowns. Schwartz and the Lions may not control their own destiny, but playoff hopes are alive as they take on the Giants. All they can do to help themselves is beat the team in front of them.

Status

Most In Danger: Schiano (4-10)
In Danger: Ryan (6-8), Frazier (4-9-1), Allen (4-10), Shanahan (3-11)
Less Danger: Garrett (7-7), Schwartz (7-7)
Fired: Kubiak

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